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Abstract

Expeditions provide a valuable opportunity for studying processes of coping with a stressful situation. An expedition to India organized by the British Schools Exploring Society has already been reported as being accompanied by positive changes on self-report personality scales. This paper is concerned with detailed cognitive coping measures completed throughout the 6 weeks of the expedition. It needs to be noted that the results relate to young adults and to those who provided detailed coping information; the generalizability of the result is a matter for future research. The expedition presented a mixture of physical and social stresses. Men enjoyed the physical experience more than women, but women enjoyed the social experience more than men. There was generally greater reliance on personal resources than on social support in coping with stress. This was particularly true for men in coping with physical stress and women in coping with social stress. In general, the physical stresses had been better anticipated than the social ones. Positive reformulations were much more widely used as coping strategies than avoidance/resignation strategies, especially so for physical stresses. However, use of avoidance/resignation strategies was the better predictor of outcome, with those who used them being least likely to show positive personality change as a result of the expedition. The results are related to current research on stress and coping.